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Because, hey, you never know!.

The community computing newsletter series #2 · Friday March 29, 2024 by colin newell

Recently a neighbour contacted me about his Windows laptop…

“I have a subscription to some anti-virus software and I updated it on my laptop and now the internet doesn’t work… what do I do?”

Windows 7, Windows 10 and 11 have built in Malware and virus protection – adding more “protection” does not always work out the
way we want it to.

My Neighbour had a “paid subscription” to a popular product and paid for even more coverage than he already had — (or needed)

I did a site visit, uninstalled the conflicting software and all things returned to normal. I advised him to call the 1-800
number at the software vendor, with his purchase confirmation number, and have the charge reverse or eliminated -
which he did and was very successful.

If you are a Mac user, the story is very similar — no additional virus/malware software is needed.

Now, it is true that Mac OS does not really have “anti-malware” features built into it, the Mac OS,
at the core is a Unix/Linux based hybrid that is significantly more resistant to attack than the Windows OS.

Buying additional software for the Mac is simply not needed, in part, because of the naturally robust nature of the Mac OS.

Hackers and bad agents don’t typically spend as much
time creating exploits for the Mac OS. It’s just not worth the effort.

For most of us, we surf the web and read our e-mail: A simple rule applies here…

If a friend or family member sends you an e-mail with a PDF, PowerPoint
or any kind of .exe (executable) file attachment in it, exercise extreme caution with it.

Most of us run into trouble while surfing the web with our favourite browsers — the reason being, the web can be a rabbit hole leading us deeper and deeper into potentially dark territory.

Most of the time, modern and up to date web browsers will warn us of impending doom when the warnings of “insecure connections” and “invalid site certificates” alerts pop up.

If your browser suggests you turn back, think it through before proceeding.

Bonus tipEveryone uses e-mail. Considering using a web-based e-mail client. This allows for an extra layer of protection from the bad people by keeping the crap and malware in the cloud OR at least warning you of the potential for a bad download.


Colin Newell is a Vancouver Island resident, retired from 36 years in info technology, software and hardware support at a local University – his writing and speaking on the subject of food and coffee culture in Canada has been seen and heard widely on radio and TV

Instant Pot Spicy Cauliflower and Cheddar cream soup · Monday October 23, 2023 by colin newell

Spicy Cauliflower Cheese and Cream Soup

Winter time is the right time for soups — and our Cauliflower, Cheddar Cheese, Cream and Chili soup is delicious, satisfying and dreamy!

And while it is not yet winter, we can happily call this a harvest recipe – Andrea quipped that practically everything on the dinner table came with our hands and out of our garden — apart from the Cauliflower — I have yet to create the wonderful ones that I find at my local farmers market.

Stuff you are going to need!

• 1 medium head Cauliflower
• 1 tbsp Garlic
• 1 Sweet onion, small
• 1 fresh Jalapeño – chopped – seeds IN or OUT

Canned Goods

• 4 cups Chicken broth or vegetable broth

Spices

• 1/4 tsp Black pepper • 1/2 tsp Salt • 1/2 tsp Chili flakes

Oils

• 2 tbsp Olive oil

Dairy

• 3/4 cup Milk or Table Cream! (Use the cream, trust me!)
• 1/2 cup Smoked Cheddar cheese
• 2 cups White cheddar cheese, sharp
• 1/2 cup Monterrey Jack cheese

Here’s how you do it!

In the insert of the Instant Pot, add olive oil and diced onions.

Using the Saute function, cook the onions for a couple of minutes until they begin to turn translucent.
Add minced garlic and stir for about thirty seconds, until it becomes fragrant.

Turn off the Saute function by pressing Cancel.

Add chopped cauliflower, broth, salt and pepper.

Select a cook time of five minutes at high pressure.

When the cook time is complete, perform a quick release of pressure.

After the pressure has released and the valve has dropped, carefully remove the lid and press Cancel to turn off the pressure cooker.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup to your desired consistency.
Create a slurry by whisking together the cream.
Pour into the hot soup, stirring to combine. Allow this to thicken for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally (if needed, you can use the Saute function to simmer the soup).

Add the shredded cheese combo, stirring until melted.

Serve, topped with additional shredded cheese and chives, if desired.



And now for your entertainment, some Hawaiian slack key guitar that I recorded after several trips to the Islands!

Rabbit-Hill-Road-V1.01.mp3


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Book review - Blood on the Breakwater · Sunday October 8, 2023 by colin newell

Blood on the breakwater

Although better known for its tea rooms, English architecture, and a seemingly inexhaustible 12 month blooming cycle, Victoria has rarely been thought of as a petrie dish of murder and intrigue – and yet, award winning journalist Jean Paetkau hits us squarely in the face with a bracing and salty tale of betrayal, dogged journalistic determination, and a hundred year old family scandal!

In her debut foray into crime fiction, Jean has successfully made the leap from children’s books into a very crowded genre often crying for originality. And while I often have the skepticism of a character from a Mickey Spillane novel, I found myself hooked within the first few passages of chapter one.

In Blood on the Breakwater, our heroine, Helene Unger, an often exhausted and bedraggled solo parent, finds solace and comfort from sunset walks on our historic waterfront. And while Victoria and its horizons seem to have sprung from a Toni Onley painting, something more sinister awaits waterside. Her life with “Vancouver Island Radio…” has been one of routine and ritual soon to be shaken up with the appearance of a lifeless woman, Lucy Marino, floating off shore.

To my delight, Jean leaves few Victoria anchors uninvolved and outside the realm of suspicion; the arts, the business of city blooms, bakeries and coffee shops! For residents of our fair garden city, Blood on the Breakwater appears to touch on every hot button issue facing our privileged gilded boulevards – whether it’s bike lanes or ferry traffic or street parking!

While our Helene might be a couple of Fluevog foot steps behind any number of suspicious characters, closely on her heel is Detective Kalinowski who has the shop worn cynicism of a gumshoe twice her age, the twitchiness and suspicion of too many encounters with the dark side of humanity.

Honestly, Blood on the Breakwater is as much a surprising thriller as it is a banter masterclass in the witty/pithy exchanges between detective and civilian investigator (Helene).

Suspects dodge and weave with the unpredictability of sedans in the Douglas-Hillside-Government intersection. I found myself held in place, by the scruff of the neck, as the denouement approached like a runaway steam train over the Malahat. It was exhausting and ultimately satisfying. Begging for more, I only began to imagine the potential sequel and pathways our heroine would uncover in future volumes and adventures.

Blood on the Breakwater is a breezy and tantalizing read – and a must have for Island residents. The book is available at all of your favourite shops – from Munro’s to Bolen Books to Russell Books and, oh yes, very online at Amazon.


Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and writer of words online since 1995. Always on the hunt for a choice piece of fiction, his hand is either holding a coffee cup or a paperback!

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Rancilio Silvia re-visited... · Tuesday August 22, 2023 by colin newell

Long time reader Bert M. checks in with his Rancilio Silvia story!
Way back in 2007 we published this treatise on the Rancilio Silvia espresso machine — it has since been read about 600,000 times.
A Local coffee enthusiast, Bert M., took it all to heart and set out on a journey with this great Italian coffee maker – here is his update!

Hi Colin!

Just re-read the Rancilio Silvia article and thought I would give you an update.

On your recommendation I received my Rancilio Silvia and Rocky In March 2008. Silvia worked perfectly until I had to replace the pump about 2 years ago. Most of the chrome has peeled off the group head cover. Waiting for one of the new black group head covers. Silvia still works perfectly.

These following photos when the machine was about 13 years old.

3-Way Bypass Valve

Untouched photos of the 3-way valve disassembly (picture at right) before I realized it was the pump.

I thought maybe the 3-way valve was plugged up. – Whitfield Food Services (Victoria) replaced the pump for me – Fast, reasonable priced service there!

Thirteen years of following your recommendations for cleanliness obviously paid off. I shared these photos with a Toronto area service tech and he was amazed.

Rancilio Silvia Group

Two years ago I started using IMS precision basket and screen – it really improved the quality of the shot but they were not always great.

Picture at left – original group after 13 years of usage.

A few months later I gave my Rocky to a family member and purchased a Eureka Oro Mignon XL grinder with 65mm burrs. 3 shots and it was dialed – in and another really noticeable upgrade in taste quality. (“Let the grind do the work as you taught me”).

The biggest change with the grinder is consistency of quality shots. Every shot, and I mean every shot, is excellent. You were right again when you said, “Spend your money on the grinder.”

Kitchen Counter Set up...

We drink Americanos – splitting the double shot and adding about 4 ounces of water with 2-3 teaspoons of 18% cream. Three times a day. Brita filter for the water for 15 years. No desire for lattes, cappucinos etc.

Method:

-Minimum 30 minutes preheat machine and portafilter before pulling the shot
-Hit brew switch till heating light comes on.
-Remove portafilter when heating light goes off.
-Then grind for 7.6 seconds and tamp. Use 7.8 seconds when the coffee approaches 2 weeks.

We still purchase Half-Caf Fantastico every two weeks on your recommendation!

-Portafilter into group head at 1m 30sec after heating light goes off.
-Pull shot for 31-36 seconds although 90% of time it is 33 seconds.
-Remove and flush group head and portafilter immediately until heating light comes on.
-Add water and cream to coffee.
-About 15 seconds after heating light goes off, flush group head with first a bit of steam followed by the water for a few seconds and use Pällo brush to quickly clean screen area. Wipe all carefully with dry cloth.
-Reinsert portafilter to be ready for second shot in about 10 minutes.

Boil all parts with ½ teaspoon of Granny’s dishwasher detergent every month and rinse rinse rinse. Back flush with same and only get a hint of colour in the water that comes through and then backflush with clean water about 10 times.

We have enjoyed perfect coffee every time.

Thank you Colin!

All the best.
Bert

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Dark Rye Flour Sourdough Bread - double batch · Sunday September 11, 2022 by colin newell

Sourdough bread is, as history tells us, the World’s first bread.

Ingredients include water, salt, flour and natural yeast – and not the yeast that comes out of the jar – the stuff that is all around is at all times… in the air, on the ground, on our skin… yea, there too – everywhere. It is the natural leavening agent that has been with us forever.

It is also said that man cannot live on bread alone — while that is not entirely true, I think what they meant was that we need to mix it up a bit – as in adding darker flours, like rye and whole wheat! Now that is definitely better for you.

In this recipe we do not talk about sourdough starter, levain and such like… you need to research that in advance – this is a recipe for a moderately advanced baker. Need help – email me or get Googling!

Instructions

1.) Grab a bowl that will hold at least 1 kg of dough – that is 1000G – so something medium/large sized.

2.) Add 180g of your ready sourdough starter to the bowl. (It is ready when a spoonful floats in water…)

3.) Add 18g of kosher salt – great salt can effect the flavour so don’t cheap out on this critical ingredient.

4.) Add 585g of warm water (not hot water!) 35 to 45 degrees © or 110 degrees (F) is probably OK but definitely not hotter than that.

5.) Mix the water, salt and starter well. Add a tablespoon or two of blackstrap molasses for some sweetness and depth of colour. Option: Add 1-2 tablespoons of caraway seeds.

6.) Gradually add 375g of white flour, 375g of whole-wheat flour and 150g of rye flour.

You can use a mixer. I do this by hand or with a bread mixing hook.
Work/knead the dough to form a sticky ball.

Stretch and fold – To develop the gluten in the dough, it is important to stretch and fold the dough twice an hour for the first 2 hours and then once more before putting in the fridge to develop/ferment overnight.

There are many awesome YouTube tutorials on the “Stretch and Fold” so find one you like and develop your technique. Note video below!

7.) You can let this all rise overnight (6 to 12 hours) or slow it down by putting it in the fridge. Fermentation keeps moving along even when your dough is tucked away in a cool area – it changes the flavour some. For keeping the dough “feisty” I tend to keep it out in the kitchen and work around its schedule.

Rule: Higher room temperature, faster “development” and fermentation of the dough.

8.) Assuming you are doing this overnight, in the morning the dough should have doubles in size – or more. Pull out the dough and toss it onto a floured bread board or surface you are happy scattering flour on.

9.) Here is another learning moment – (find a suitable YouTube video…[example below]) This is where you work the dough a bit and pull, fold and shape into a “loaf” and drop into a floured or parchment papered loaf pan.
Do consult the internets on technique because it is extra difficult to describe in words alone.

10.) Let rise for 4 – 6 hours… even 8 hours… or overnight again… in the fridge.

12. ) Transfer the dough into the pan. Cover and “2nd rise” for 4 to 6 hours. Dress with additional caraway seed. Slash with a razor (see the video below!)

13.) Bake for 24-28 minutes at 475 degrees (F) or until delightfully brown on top. You are looking for a core temperature of at least 190 (F)

14.) If baking in a Dutch Oven, bake for the first 17-20 minutes with the cover on -
and then for another 10-15 minutes at 450 degrees — or until core TEMP of 190 (F)

Turn onto drying rack for, at least, 30 minutes or more before cutting — I know, it is tempting to try cutting it when it is right out of the oven. Don’t do it! You lose a lot of moisture by cutting the bread too soon.

Check out the video below for some valuable technique! Trust me – the more video you watch, the better you are going to be at making bread!

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